Malibu Real Estate Sizzles After Record Sales

An exclusive rendering of one of the five houses that will make up Scott Gillen’s The Case, which will come to market in 2020. Each home will range from 10,500 to 13,500 square feet and boast stunning views.

A string of eye-popping deals (including an L.A. County record $110 million sale) has made the "coveted parts" of the 20-square-mile beach enclave hotter than ever.

For anyone with property in Malibu, it's making less and less sense to sit on the fence. Take Debbie and Damon Fisher. Whatever hesitation the couple had about selling their 11-acre equestrian property was erased after a recent series of head-spinning real estate deals. "The market is just so hot — now's the time," says Debbie, who purchased the ranch on Winding Way from Academy Award-winning director George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) in 2001 for $2.3 million (they later added an adjacent parcel for about $1.5 million); the property is now listed for $14 million.

Locals were floored after David Geffen's estate sold last May for $85 million, a (brief) Malibu record. Then came news in December that Kurt Rappaport, co-founder of Westside Estate Agency, had sold his Carbon Beach home (including furnishings and much of the art) to Canadian billionaire Daryl Katz for $120 million. Weeks later, Hard Rock Cafe founder Peter Morton sold his Richard Meier-designed Carbon Beach home for $110 million, the highest price ever paid in L.A. County — for now.

"A door has opened up with these recent sales that has given greater value than we have seen in the past," says The Agency co-founder Paul Lester, who is listing designer and builder Scott Gillen's The Case, a five-home development atop a bluffside tract next to Malibu Colony. The Case homes were planned to be in the $40 million to $60 million range, but that pricing is being re-evaluated.

It's not just the super-luxury market that's hot. In the first three months of 2018, Malibu sales were up 36 percent over the same period last year, according to Douglas Elliman. And with high-end summer renters often turning into buyers, no one is predicting a cooling off. Coldwell Banker's Susan Monus, a 28-year Malibu resident, predicts new records could be set by the end of year. "We are talking about 21 miles (of coastline), and there are only small pockets within that that are coveted parts and they don't shake loose very often," she says. "People know if they leave they can't get back in." 

This story first appeared in the May 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.